Monday, May 3, 2010

National Teachers' Day

May 4th is National Teachers' Day in the United States (and possibly elsewhere). No, I didn't know that either until I read the blurb from a Teachers' Calendar someone gave me. It said something snappy at the end like, "If you can read this, then thank a teacher!" After cringing at that old chestnut, I took it to heart. I decided that for my first blog post I would thank all of the elementary school teachers I can remember (it isn't that I don't feel grateful to later teachers...I simply think the earlier ones tend to get the short end of the memory stick, which is a shame). The odd, entertaining comment will be thrown in for those of you who are already rolling your eyes at the thought of reading a long list of people you probably don't know...

Pre-school: *This, in my large family, does not mean a colorful place you take toddlers in an effort to socialize/teach them like the stupendous Goddard schools of today...
(that's a plug for my friends Jim and Roni who have a stupendous school in Snohomish...check it out! ).

For my family, "pre-school" just meant "home." Any education I received before going to Kindergarten happened at home. So, thanks to my very first (unpaid) teachers: Mom, Dad, and all of my sisters and brothers. Truly, I wouldn't be the same without you.

Crystal Springs Elementary School, Bothell, Washington:

Kindergarten: Mrs. Belknap (or Mrs. Seifert...I get Kindergarten and 1st Grade mixed up...). thanks for having Show and Tell and for wearing cat-eye glasses. I distinctly remember coveting a white dress you wore with tiny pink flowers all over it.

1st Grade: Mrs. Seifert (or Mrs. Belknap...see above). Thanks for looking the other way when we climbed the forbidden cherry tree in our "quad". Trees were my natural habitat at home, and that tree was a good transition for me.

2nd Grade: Mrs. Judith (?) Frymeyer (sp?). Thanks for being the Hippiest Hippy teacher I ever had. I remember your ponchos, your sandals, your enormous glasses, and your kindness when I lost a tooth (or five) in your class.

3rd Grade: Mrs. Diane King. Easily the tallest, coolest, most beautiful teacher on EARTH-- at least to my 3rd grade mind. Thanks for taking me to Seattle Center as pay-back for me having to miss a school field trip because of a dentist appointment. Thanks for having your class to your house for hot cocoa after Christmas caroling. Thanks for your pale pink lipstick and polyester suits--if anyone ever looked good in that era, you did. Thanks for not sending me to the Principal when I fought with Steve Manson. Thank you also, for keeping in touch with me for so many years after you moved away. Thank you for not laughing when I wrote about the "kegger" we had for my brother when he returned from Vietnam.

***Also 3rd Grade: Mrs. Hamasaki. We changed classes for music, and Mrs. Hamasaki could play the piano and sing soprano like no other, so it was off to her class we went. "Here Come the Brides" was on TV at the time, and she sported the same 'do that the character "Biddy" had: ringlets piled up behind a big poof of hair. Except Mrs. Hamasaki's hair was blond, very, very blond. Thank you, Mrs. Hamasaki, for your music and for bringing your Sumo-sized husband to one of our picnics. If he didn't do Sumo wrestling for a living, I can't imagine what he did do!

4th Grade: Mrs. Dorothy Duffy. From Heaven straight to the deepest pit of Hell...or so I thought, when I first read that name on my report card at the end of 3rd Grade. She looked to be over 100 years old, had a jet-black, helmet-shaped hair style which framed her overly-powdered face, and thin lips that were permanently pursed. She had rules galore, and made us keep a handkerchief, nail clippers, and a fingernail file in our desks at all times. She loved spelling, and made us kiss her on the cheek if we missed a word on our weekly test. We ALL learned to be very good spellers in Mrs. Duffy's class! Within months I was a very good student, and I do give her credit for shaping up my study habits and for showing me the power of books. The only thing I couldn't ever get used to in her class was her rule about "cleaning your plate" at lunch. I was a supremely picky eater as a child and missed many a recess because I could not pass her end-of-lunch inspection. She would glare at me with eyes that had seen the Great Depression, lecture me for a while, and watch while I guiltily gave my food scraps to "Ruffles," (Waddles? I forget...)the dog we allowed in to the classroom sometimes as a mascot. If she could see me eating sashimi today she would no doubt faint! Thank you for making me read aloud for a very long time (as punishment) from "Our Washington" this day, reading aloud helps me focus! Thank you for everything, Mrs. Duffy.

***Also 4th Grade: Mrs. Virginia Boyle, Reading teacher extraordinaire! Thank you for changing me from an avid reader in to a voracious one. Also, thanks for the Zot! candies you gave us. Thank you and rest in peace Miss Bligh (who became Mrs. difficult-name-I-couldn't-pronounce). You taught us music but gave us pure joy! I think you introduced us to every musical instrument ever made...and you could play them all! My nieces were also very lucky to have had you later in your career. The world is sadder without you. Thank you Ms. Judy Fawcett (sp?) for teaching us P.E., doing Square Dancing with a half-cast on your leg and for driving your bright yellow Porsche with the top down. You wore shorts and sunglasses almost every day (a difficult thing to pull off in Bothell, Washington!), and so were gloriously tan and healthy-looking. I say "looking" because even then I was wise to those lines around the mouth that mark smokers...I hope you gave them up!

5th Grade: Thank you Ms. Rosebaugh, for being my teacher all of two months or so. You were the first black teacher I had, the first woman who used "Ms." in front of her name, and the first one to make me think hard about what "race" meant when you asked us how many races of people there are in the world. Our dorky 5th grade minds guessed anywhere from 10 to 3 and I can still remember our brains absorbing your answer "ONE...the Human race." We loved you. We also loved the cool colored and patterned tights you wore with short seemed so modern after Mrs. Duffy! Alas, the class was too big and they brought in another teacher, Miss Janie Krueger. I was already taller than her and had serious doubts about leaving Ms. Rosebaugh's class...but Miss Krueger was awesome! I remember laughing a lot in her class but still learning because we seemed to go to the library constantly. Thank you!

6th Grade: Mr. Victor Lawrence. This man was made to be a teacher. Thank you, Mr. Lawrence, for allowing us to build a sailboat in class (how many did you make over your career, I wonder?), for keeping the card game "Authors" on hand at lunch, and for never embarassing us in front of other students if (when) we did something wrong. You were one of my favorites. You also looked better without your toupee...

**Also 6th Grade: Mrs. Klose, the music teacher we were all prepared to dislike because HOW could you possibly be as good as Miss Bligh?! We envied the younger students who still had Miss Bligh but very soon were won over by Mrs. Klose's bright personality, slight over-bite, and a beautiful singing voice. Physically, she reminded me of Dear Abby-- at least the picture that was in the paper at that time. She had Dear Abby's hair-do: dark curly hair flipped up on one side. Thank you for letting me be your assistant and giving me the mini Raggedy-Andy playing cards. They are the original pack in my playing card collection (I'll bet some of you didn't even know I have such a aren't you glad you kept reading this?!).

***Also Elementary School: Mrs. Marilyn Cook, Librarian. Thank you for many years of service-- whenever I hear/see "Charlotte's Web" I think of you. Thank you also for creating a reading club where we got to read new books before the other students. Thank you, Mr. Victor Ohls, our Principal, who used to judge and give out awards for our hand-writing samples. Thank you for your wisdom in discipline matters (he had a paddle hanging on his wall but never used it on me...even when I broke the glass door to the was an accident!). Thank you, too, for allowing "Movie Nights" and popcorn in the gym. Many of us had families who didn't often have money for real theaters. Thank you for carting us home in your sea-foam green station wagon when winters were bad and buses couldn't make it up and down hills. Thank you for having your wife, Dolores, substitute when teachers were away. She made us smile.

I was a lucky girl to have had you all in my life. Thank you for becoming educators. I can only hope that I am giving my students a fraction of all that you gave me.


  1. Jennifer - your memory amazes me. I can name a few of my teachers but not all and certainly not in such detail. There was Miss Trackwell (3rd grade - Park Orchard Skunks) - she wore this dress (frequently) that I'm pretty sure was actually a bathrobe cut off at the knee. Mrs. Day in 4th Grade - she had the longest hair I've ever seen and I loved her. Miss Arnold, who became Mrs. I Married a REALLY Good Looking Guy, for 5th grade - the year I met you but you didn't like me and I thought you were the meanest girl in school. And, of course, 6th grade where we were united in Mr. Lawrence's room and built a sailboat together. From there it's all a blur - Mr. Estes, Mrs. Hickey (who could forget that name?), Mr. Freemantle (he said I had "impeccable nails", had to look that one up)and what was that poor substitute's name that we tortured? Remember, Mike what's his name put on the wig and was pretending to cry? Well, I've hopped in to Junior High so I will refrain from any more comments. Looking forward to your next post. Love ya, Roni.

  2. Oops! GLARING mistake in 6th grade teacher's name! It was/is Grant Lawrence, not Victor! Must have had our Principal on my mind. Apologies.